Monday, July 27, 2009

Gifts from Swedish girls

PHOTODONATION:Arturs Romanovskis

A while ago, we were contacted by Inese who wanted to volunteer for us. Inese told of her friend in Sweden who would like to help our children. She said there were several girls who had prepared some knitted slippers, hats and sweaters for Latvian babies and children. It was then that we agreed that Maria, the Swedish girl, should come here and see some of the families and how they live with her own eyes.
In the morning of 4 June, accompanied by the photographer Artūrs Romanovskis, we met Maria in the hotel and set off to Bauska. It was initially planned that her husband would take part in the trip as well, but he was worried it might be too painful for him to see.
Maria met us with a huge suitcase in hand, for which we hardly found a place in the car’s boot – for we already were carrying gifts from Siemens employees and sweets provided by Kraukļa Fonds foundation.
We had a chat along the way – I told her about us, the children, the situation in general; I tried to explain what the crisis means to low-income families where (at best) only one of the parents is working for the minimum wage.
First we went to see little Linda (she was the one who had caught Maria’s eye most of all). Linda now has two warm jackets knit by the Swedish girls, while her mother and brother got some knit socks. For her brother Lauris, there was a special gift form a boy named Anton who is the same age as Lauris – a collection of toy cars. Anton had strictly warned to tell Lauris that these cars were personally from him.
The children of the Smilgas family each received a new pillow, while their mother got as warm and cosy blanket. The biggest gift, however, went to Gatis – a brand-new computer monitor from Siemens.
Afterwards, we wet to see two brothers: Raivis and Kristians.
Maria was slightly shocked by the brothers’ living conditions. I really doubt she had seen something similar in Sweden …
Trying to fight the fatigue, we decided to visit the Kapseļu street children’s home in Riga because there were still plenty of small-size socks and hats in the suitcase. The nannies were kind and beaming with smiles as usual. There was enough in the suitcase for nearly half of all of the kids. Zane, one of “our” twins, became a part-time “model”, as the new hats had to be tried on, demonstrated to others and memorised in the pictures.
It was an emotional day. It is so nice to know that, even in a foreign land, there is someone who cares and feels sympathy for our children.

Maria – thank you ever so much!

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